Another “Meddling” Mother-in law

Question: Dear Luise: I recently read the question Betty W. wrote to you about her interfering mother-in-law who objected to her parenting skills. My mother-in-law is a schoolteacher, too. We live about 3,000 miles apart, so she comes in the summer and stays with our kids. It’s a great plan because she gets to have time with them and they really like her. We also save on a sitter for three months.

The problem is that she has decided what we will all do regarding an issue we disagree on. It’s over the dog getting to lick the scraps off our plates after we finish a meal…a long-standing custom. He doesn’t beg but waits patiently until we’re done and then loves his treat. My mother-in-law just decreed, “not while I’m here and that’s that!” It’s our house, our dog and our custom. We have a dishwasher that uses very hot water and everything comes out sparking clean. I just hate the power she wields over us. What’s your take? Sandy

Answer: Dear Sandy: Well, first of all I think the lady lacks tact. It is your house and she needs to have more respect and better manners. I wonder if she did that in front of your kids? You need to set some summer ground rules, and the first is that she complains to you only in private. Let her know that she is welcome to give you her opinion in a respectful way, and that you will do your best to work things out with her whenever possible. The second ground rule is that you are adults and will not accept “orders” from her. Tell her that they are not welcome and will not be “obeyed” and, further, that she must accept that fact when deciding whether to come for future summers. She has no power over you unless you give it to her.

(Please note that if she tried to talk with you nicely about this first and you refused to listen, then you have been disrespectful, as well.)

That said…she probably has your best interest at heart. She probably knows about the various kinds of worms that live in the intestinal tracks of pets, as well as knowing how pets usually clean themselves. Give her a break! That’s the tongue that licks the plates. Am I correct in remembering that the hot water in dishwashers is not boiling and does not sterilize? I think that’s true.

If you are willing to consider her point of view, hit the web and read up on parasites…it will give you nightmares!

How about this; while your mother-in-law is with you, why not transfer all of the scraps from the dinner plates to the dog’s dish? And while you’re at it, why not do it year round? One last thought; why not thank her? Blessings, Luise

10 Responses to Another “Meddling” Mother-in law

  1. shannon May 26, 2006 at 9:58 am #

    I just wanted to say that I think her mother in law is treading in territory that is none of her business. Maybe she could eat on paper plates for the summer. Ha.

  2. Luise May 29, 2006 at 10:23 pm #

    That’s a great idea! The family proceeds as usual and the mother-in-law doesn’t have to adapt to a practice she finds unacceptable. (However, once a person thinks about it…yuck! Worms?)

  3. Brenda July 26, 2006 at 11:49 am #

    GREAT advice Luise!!! It is soooo refreshing to read something on the web that puts an idiot daughter-in-law in her place. Not all DILS are idiots. Just the ones who refuse to see reality because they would rather win than to protect their own children’s health. Sad, sad, sad. And these are the gals raising the next generation? Hmmmm.

  4. A Mother in Law July 28, 2006 at 10:22 am #

    whoa! luise you hit the nail on the head with the advice to the daughter in law about her disgusting “custom”. I can’t help but wonder what in the world daughters in law of today think they are doing. the ones I know demand their mothers in law’s respect without earning it and want to be the ram rod in their husband’s family yet they whine and complain if anyone especially their mother in law should “have the audacity” to speak up to them. again the ones I know seem very immature and temperamental. I agree with brenda. the only thing i disagree with in your advice is that the mother in law lacks tact. she was in her son’s home and felt comfortable enough to make the comment. daughter in law is being too temperamental in this situation. what ever happened to extending a little grace to your elders? maybe thats what lacking in society today.

  5. Luise July 29, 2006 at 4:42 pm #

    Answer: Dear Brenda and “Whoa”: Thanks to both of you for your positive feedback. It’s just too darn easy to see one side of the coin, ins’t it? Blessings, Luise

  6. Maria August 11, 2006 at 4:21 am #

    Wait a minute….I am a mother in law. My daughter in law has not cooked one meal for me or made a cup of coffee for my husband and I in all of the five years they have been married. I have cleaned her apartment, helped move them from one place to another, been there financially, emotionally, physically for wedding, grandchildren birth and new home. She is cold, and rude and I have to live with it. My son is happy and that is what counts even though I feel gypped on the daughter in law front.

  7. Luise August 11, 2006 at 2:37 pm #

    Well, Maria…bless your heart. Your kindness may go unnoticed by your daughter-in-law but it can’t be unrewarded where your continued contact with your son and grandchildren is concerned. I, too, have someone in my family like that and I have made the same choices. Some relationships remain forever a mystery to me but your’re right, if the one you love is happy, that’s what matters most. Blessings, Luise

  8. Vavoom July 16, 2007 at 10:25 pm #

    Sorry but I let my pet lick the plates. He’s on worm prevention so whatever.

    Whenever anyone tells me how to do things in my home, I always ask them: “You paying the mortgage this month?” The answer is always No. To which I respond, then please STFU. My family included.

  9. Luise July 20, 2007 at 8:35 am #

    Dear Vavoom: That reminds me of what I say when someone tells me I shouldn’t kill a fly or a spider in my house! I always say that they aren’t paying their part of the rent! Blessings, Luise

  10. Jody October 4, 2007 at 10:13 am #

    Dear Whoa:

    The mother in law DOES lack tack and EVERYONE, daughters in law included, deserves respect especially in their own home. Would you let your daughter in law come into your home and order you around? Didn’t think so. Just because your an elder doesn’t mean you get to order people around. There is nothing worse than an overbearing, meddlesome mother in law. I wonder what the statistic is on divorces caused by miserable mother in laws? Interesting.

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